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DELICATE

Pronunciation (US): 

 Dictionary entry overview: What does delicate mean? 

DELICATE (adjective)
  The adjective DELICATE has 7 senses:

1. exquisitely fine and subtle and pleasing; susceptible to injury
2. marked by great skill especially in meticulous technique
3. easily broken or damaged or destroyed
4. easily hurt
5. developed with extreme delicacy and subtlety
6. difficult to handle; requiring great tact
7. of an instrument or device; capable of registering minute differences or changes precisely

  Familiarity information: DELICATE used as an adjective is common.


 Dictionary entry details 


DELICATE (adjective)


Sense 1delicate [BACK TO TOP]

Meaning:

Exquisitely fine and subtle and pleasing; susceptible to injury

Context examples:

a delicate violin passage / delicate china / a delicate flavor / the delicate wing of a butterfly

Similar:

tender ((of plants) not hardy; easily killed by adverse growing condition)

subtle (faint and difficult to analyze)

pastel (lacking in body or vigor)

overdelicate (extremely delicate)

light-handed (having a metaphorically delicate touch)

half-hardy ((of plants) requiring protection from frost)

fragile (vulnerably delicate)

ethereal; gossamer (characterized by unusual lightness and delicacy)

dainty; exquisite (delicately beautiful)

Also:

weak (having little physical or spiritual strength)

breakable (capable of being broken or damaged)

frail (physically weak)

Attribute:

strength (the property of being physically or mentally strong)

Antonym:

rugged (sturdy and strong in constitution or construction; enduring)


Sense 2delicate [BACK TO TOP]

Meaning:

Marked by great skill especially in meticulous technique

Context example:

a surgeon's delicate touch

Similar:

skilled (having or showing or requiring special skill)


Sense 3delicate [BACK TO TOP]

Meaning:

Easily broken or damaged or destroyed

Synonyms:

fragile; delicate; frail

Context examples:

a kite too delicate to fly safely / fragile porcelain plates / fragile old bones / a frail craft

Similar:

breakable (capable of being broken or damaged)


Sense 4delicate [BACK TO TOP]

Meaning:

Easily hurt

Synonyms:

delicate; soft

Context examples:

soft hands / a baby's delicate skin

Similar:

tender; untoughened (physically untoughened)


Sense 5delicate [BACK TO TOP]

Meaning:

Developed with extreme delicacy and subtlety

Synonyms:

finespun; delicate

Context example:

the satire touches with finespun ridicule every kind of human pretense

Similar:

refined ((used of persons and their behavior) cultivated and genteel)


Sense 6delicate [BACK TO TOP]

Meaning:

Difficult to handle; requiring great tact

Synonyms:

ticklish; touchy; delicate

Context examples:

delicate negotiations with the big powers / hesitates to be explicit on so ticklish a matter / a touchy subject

Similar:

difficult; hard (not easy; requiring great physical or mental effort to accomplish or comprehend or endure)


Sense 7delicate [BACK TO TOP]

Meaning:

Of an instrument or device; capable of registering minute differences or changes precisely

Context example:

almost undetectable with even the most delicate instruments

Similar:

sensitive (responsive to physical stimuli)


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